Can we explore what is possible when diverse groups build trust and find common purpose to meet the challenging water issues that face us today?
What Did We Learn?
The four films we shared this year are powerful, but they are merely a few examples of the amazing work being done by passionate people everywhere—people who inspire the kind of organizational commitments that provide thriving energy to their communities. Our intent with film is to reveal the thread that connects the beginning of an idea to the meaningful, important and sustainable outcome which engenders a thriving and resilient community. The end product is important, but learning and sharing how this is achieved is our primary goal.
Our work is relatively simple. This world and our communities have too many silos of operation. Our lives and our communities work better in collaboration. It is our hope to break down silos by sharing examples of powerful work so that people in and from every community can connect and share through action and example. In the long run, we hope to connect us all to the greater work that is right in front of us.
Duwamish River Cleanup Coalition is a stunning example of diverse community activism and should be presented as one of the ways large ecosystems underpin our economy and quality of life, and define our geographic identity (e.g. Seattle and the Salish Sea); a healthy river can perform the same feat for thriving communities.
Methow Conservancy presents a viable future begun over 18 years ago which celebrates diverse expectations and needs that they have promoted through trust, perseverance and education. This is a model for anyone interested in the only landscape feature shared by all residents of a city or town – residents with nothing else in common and separated by ethnicity, culture, income levels, and educational opportunity. It is a working and replicable model.
DreamRider stirs the soul! Simple and very profound, the thread of challenge and learning of 3 individuals, a Provincial water department that believed in them and 15 consecutive years of kindergarten classes that have, through dramatic plays and technology, changed life views of family in Vancouver BC has metrics to prove that it works. And it can work in any community who believes that water is an essential element in a thriving community.
Whidbey Watershed Stewards started with salmon and a teacher who knew that salmon plus water plus students plus community might equal a systemic change in how the entire community can be involved to be one of the threads in a thriving community. If we believe that creeks are microcosms of the aquatic ecosystems of which they are a part (ie. Maxwelton watershed and Salish Sea) the replicable impact could be momentous.
Tim Vendlinski from the Sacramento Delta area shared the state of the delta today in vivid images of the subsidence and erosion created by the lack of foresight and demand for water in that has created challenges for every community in this watershed. There is hope found in the preservation of a small area called the Rancho de Paso and what a small community of people did to save a pristine area that now has many frogs.
Deeper Concepts about Thriving
5 years of research by a team of psychologists on this work! Reporting was Dr. Tim Popanz, PHD Seattle, WA.
One primary finding from the “Thriving Communities” research project helps us to think about distinctions between “resilience” and “thriving.”
From the qualitative interviews’ thematic analysis, “resilience” appears to be a person or community’s response to a significant adverse circumstance. The person or community’s adaptive response to this circumstance can be summarized as “seeing the opportunity for change in the adversity.” This transformational pivot point allows the person or community to activate change—the primary hallmark of “resilience.”
“Thriving” appears to be a long-term adaptation that results after the resilient response. Thriving requires adaptive leadership in order for the change that was originally sparked by resilience to become sustainable. Sustainability can be defined as an on-going series of adaptations that are deeply collaborative and systemic in vision—one of the hallmarks of thriving.
I believe that the “Thriving Communities” themselves are transitioning through our five meetings from resilience-based conversations and adaptations to thriving or sustaining conversations about change. I am witnessing this cultural shift in the meetings and I believe that is the challenge for the “Thriving Communities” participants—what is the shared vision moving forward, what will collaboration look like, who are the stakeholders in this change, and what leadership is required for sustainability?
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